Nowadays, plenty of tennis players are celebrities. Even people who aren’t fans of the sport know the Williams sisters and Rafael Nadal. The level of fame that elite tennis players enjoy is unmatched compared to any other time in history. They’re in music videos and get followed by paparazzi.
But just like tennis players are celebrities, some celebrities are also tennis players. The following seven big names love the game and are known to hit the court themselves from time to time.
1. Scarlett Johansson – Actress
We all know that Scarlett Johansson makes more money than almost any other woman in Hollywood. She’s prolific. She stars in huge action flicks (Black Widow) that make us cheer and heart-wrenching emotional dramas that make us cry (Marriage Story).
She does voice work and has been on “Saturday Night Live” (and is married to SNL star Colin Jost). And in 2005, she was in a tennis-based movie called “Match Point.”
When she started filming, she had never played the game before. But she told Shape magazine in an interview that she fell in love with the game over the course of filming and having to practice every day.
As most tennis players know, tennis is a great sport to get in shape, and Scarlett said one of the things she loves about tennis is that as you play, you don’t notice how much you’re running.
2. Matthew McConaughey – Actor
At one time, Matthew McConaughey was just a rom-com star. But he managed to reinvent himself later in this career, writing a book, signing major sponsorships, teaching at the University of Texas, and landing a deal to talk people to sleep on the app “Calm.”
He’s also an athlete and an avid sports fan. His Twitter feed is almost exclusively sports based, and he’s even part owner of the Austin FC soccer team. He told Sports Illustrated that he played tennis as a teen, broke his foot, and took up golf instead.
However, in his later years, he’s been seen playing tennis in various locations. There are even some hilarious photos of the loveable blond floating around from his movie “The Beach Bum.” He’s on a blue hard court wearing swim trunks, a fanny pack, and a pink silk dressing grown.
3. Taylor Swift – Singer/Songwriter
In 2018, Will Ferrell joked that Taylor Swift was the best celebrity tennis player in LA. And he would know! The avid tennis fan was asked his opinion on the matter, named Swift, and then said he was “making things up.”
But Taylor is friends with Serena Williams, and she even made a reference to Williams in her 2020 music video for “The Man.” When she was dressed up as a man, she had a meltdown as a tennis player and threw tennis balls at the referee (who was played by her dad.)
Fans thought this was a callback to Serena’s 2018 encounter with a chair umpire, which was heavily criticized and publicized despite many male tennis players acting as upset and worse with umpires in the past.
Swift also bought a house in Beverly Hills that has its own tennis court, so let’s hope she gets out there with a racquet now and then!
4. Ben Stiller – Actor/Comedian
We all died a little inside when Rafa pulled Ben Stiller out of the crowd to play doubles with him. The actor loves tennis but admits that he’s not very good at the game. In fact, the pair were defeated by Rafael’s opponent and a toddler.
But Stiller can’t seem to stay out of on-court drama when he’s seated courtside. Nick Kyrgios called out a heckler in the crowd, asking “Are you good at tennis?” He then went on to say, “I don’t tell him [Ben] how to act!”
Now, it’s important to note that Ben Stiller wasn’t heckling Nick. It was the person sitting next to Stiller who decided to engage with the Australian tennis player while he was playing Stiller’s buddy Rafael Nadal.
5. Justin Bieber – Singer/Songwriter
Ultra-successful and highly competitive singer-songwriter Justin Bieber (maybe you’ve heard of him) has played a lot of sports throughout his life. He loves hockey, skateboarding, basketball, and ping-pong, but he’s not afraid to pick up a racquet.
Bieber is open about his competitiveness, and given that he thought that he was going to be a pro hockey player when he was younger, he’s got some innate athletic talent that he cultivates in casual games with his friends.
He played in the Desert Smash charity event in 2015 (where he also performed), jumped over the net on a tennis court to impress now-wife Hailey in 2016, was spotted taking tennis lessons, and got catcalled by his friend Conor McGregor while playing tennis on vacation in the Bahamas in 2022.
What a life.
6. Ellen Degeneres – Talk Show Host/Comedian
Bieber’s buddy and LGBTQ icon Ellen DeGeneres played tennis in high school and has featured the game heavily on her talk show over the past 19 seasons.
She’s hosted multiple tennis players, including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Naomi Osaka, and she has played the game with Matthew Perry of “Friends” fame and pro tennis player Melanie Oudin.
She pulled out an oversized racquet and enlisted Queen Latifah to play in a doubles match with Oudin. She even sent her producer, Andy, to play at the US Open against pro players in her segment “Average Andy.”
It was predictably hilarious to see a regular guy up against the best in the world—even losing his shorts at one point playing Swiss player Stan Wawrinka.
7. Dirk Nowitzki – NBA Player
At 7’0”, Dirk is taller than any professional tennis player. He’s got a solid one inch on Reilly Opelka and Ivo Karlovic, who are the tallest players on the ATP at 6’11”.
But before his amazing basketball career, Dirk played tennis. It was actually the first sport that he ever played, picking up a racquet when he was around four or five.
He played competitively in Bavaria but didn’t like the individual aspect of tennis, especially since he was teased for his height. He played until he was 15 before switching to basketball, which was a tough choice for him at the time, but obviously was a good one for him.
He used tennis as cross-training for basketball, working on his footwork and the hand-eye coordination. His home has a tennis court, and he hosts a charity tennis tournament in conjunction with his philanthropic foundation.
Tennis is a great sport for people of any age, and since it is a global sport, it has a huge fanbase. Whether they use tennis to stay in shape, unwind after a long day on set, or as training in their offseason, tennis is a much-loved game from kids on the playground to those in the highest echelon of Hollywood.